MARK H. THIEMENS is the dean of physical sciences, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and the Chancellor’s Associates Chair in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. His research is centered on use of the mass-independent fractionation process for stable isotopes to study the origin and evolution of the solar system, definition of the source and transformation of greenhouse gases in the troposphere, chemistry of the stratosphere and mesosphere, chemistry of the ancient martian atmosphere, and the origin and evolution of oxygen-ozone and life in Earth’s Precambrian. Dr. Thiemens is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and his extensive NAS-NRC service includes membership on the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems, the PNAS editorial board, and the Committee on the Review of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample-Return Missions.


DAVID H. SMITH joined the Space Studies Board (SSB) in 1991. He is the senior staff officer and study director for a variety of NRC activities in planetary science, astrobiology, and astrophysics. He also organizes the SSB’s Lloyd V. Berkner Summer Policy Internship program and supervises most, if not all, of the interns. He received a B.Sc. in mathematical physics from the University of Liverpool in 1976, completed Part III of the Mathematics Tripos at Cambridge University in 1977, and earned a D.Phil. in theoretical astrophysics from the University of Sussex in 1981. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Queen Mary College University of London (1980-1982), he held the position of associate editor and, later, technical editor of Sky and Telescope. Immediately prior to joining the staff of the SSB, Dr. Smith was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

CATHERINE A. GRUBER is an editor with the SSB. She joined the SSB as a senior program assistant in 1995. Ms. Gruber first came to the NRC in 1988 as a senior secretary for the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and has also worked as an outreach assistant for the National Academy of Sciences-Smithsonian Institution’s National Science Resources Center. She was a research assistant (chemist) in the National Institute of Mental Health’s Laboratory of Cell Biology for 2 years. She has a B.A. in natural science from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

RODNEY N. HOWARD joined the SSB as a senior project assistant in 2002. Before he joined the SSB, most of his vocational life was spent in the health profession as a pharmacy technologist at Doctor’s Hospital in Lanham, Maryland, and as an interim center administrator at the Concentra Medical Center in Jessup, Maryland. During that time, he participated in a number of Quality Circle Initiatives, which were designed to improve relations between management and staff. Mr. Howard obtained his B.A. in communications from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 1983.

HEATHER D. SMITH recently completed her Ph.D. in biological engineering from Utah State University. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Texas, Dr. Smith moved to California to work as a Space Camp counselor. While at Space Camp she volunteered at NASA Ames Research Center and was hired as a research associate for the SETI Institute upon completion of an undergraduate degree in physics from the Evergreen State College. After working at Ames for several years she decided to go back to graduate school. Prior to her doctoral degree she earned an M.Sc. in space studies from International Space University.

ANNA B. WILLIAMS received her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Northeastern University. Her doctoral research focused on the development of small organic mimics of the protein alpha helix, for use as inhibitors of protein-protein interactions. Another aspect of her work was in the development of synthetic methodology toward the efficient radiolabeling of compounds of known biological activity for use as radioactive tracers. Prior to her graduate work, Dr. Williams received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in philosophy from Dickinson College.

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